Blackmagic Design released their own plugin for Premiere Pro and Media Encoder to decode BRAW : in this article we will explain its differences with our plugin BRAW Studio so you can choose what's best for you
Table of Contents
TL;DR : Pros & Cons
Straight to the point, here's a summary of our findings !
Why would you want to get our plugin BRAW Studio :
Good timecode for NTSC framerates, so you have the ability to export the timeline to DaVinci Resolve
No Replace Clip bug, No Ctrl-Z bug and Source Settings Copy/Paste is working fine (see at the bottom of this post for a full list of BMD bugs), BMD plugin cache issue seem to have been fixed in Blackmagic RAW 1.5.1 update
Metadata inside Premiere Pro (both Properties and Project Panel Columns)
Increased compatibility (CC 2017 and CC 2018)
"Reconnect Full Resolution" button for proxies is working in BRAW Studio
General Support : we're here to fix your issues and answer you by email
Why would you want to use Blackmagic Design's Blackmagic RAW plugin ?
Some Mac OSX users have crashes with BRAW Studio and could avoid them with BMD's plugin
If you're absolutely looking for performance right now you should test BMD's plugin but be aware that you probably won't be able to switch your projects to our plugin BRAW Studio if some issues (Wrong timecode, LUT etc.) arise later on. So please read this article carefully !
Also, if you're on Mac OSX you should consider testing BRAW Studio free trial (500 first frames decoded, unlimited in time) to be sure you you won't experience any crash.
Now we'll explain each point, as well as if you can use both plugins at the same time and how to install / uninstall each of them :
Differences in features
23.976 & 29.97 fps footage Timecode Issue
The NTSC BRAW files (framerate 23.976 / 29.97) have a wrong timecode in Premiere Pro due to an Adobe bug, in both our BRAW Studio plugin AND in BMD's plugin.
No big deal... except if you want to export your timeline in FCP XML and import it back to DaVinci Resolve (for color grading for example) : there will be an error when importing.
In some Blackmagic cameras, you can set a LUT to change the aspect of the footage inside the camera. This LUT is saved in the BRAW File if applied in the camera.
In BRAW Studio, you will have a checkbox "apply LUT" to choose if you want to apply the LUT to the footage or not, and a dropdown list to choose if the LUT comes from the braw file itself ("embedded") or from the sidecar (which can contain a LUT). It is the same behavior than in Resolve.
In the BMD plugin, it seems that there is no way to control the LUT, so if the LUT is applied in the camera when shooting, it will be applied in the BMD plugin but without the ability to switch it on or off (Unless if you export the sidecar, then change the value inside and reload it with the "Revert to Metadata" button).
We have also seen clips where the LUT wasn't being applied at all in the official plugin, for an unknown reason. If you have footage where this happens please send it to us!
We also saw a footage where the LUT wasn't being applied in the official plugin, for an unknown reason. If you have footages where this happens please send us them !
In Premiere Pro, there is a native feature to save and apply presets from any effect by right clicking on the effect name. This feature doesn't work with either the BMD plugin or with our BRAW Studio plugin. It will sometimes result in bad situations (when the ISO lists or LUTs available are different for example).
But from the 1.7.0 version of BRAW Studio, there is a BRAW Studio Presets feature directly available from the Source Settings, where you can save up to 20 presets and apply them quickly !
BRAW Metadata Columns in the Project Panel
When shooting with Blackmagic cameras, the users can set some useful metadata like "Reel", "Scene", "Take", "Good", ... This metadata is set inside the braw file when it is saved.
Some of this metadata can be shown in the Premiere Pro Project Panel in list view with our plugin BRAW Studio, but not BMD's plugin. So you can sort and organize your files in terms of the metadata. For example ordering files using the "Reel" number metadata, or only finding the files which are tagged "Good".
Also, when right-clicking on a BRAW project item and selecting "Properties", with our plugin you have other information like BRAW compression and much more.
It seems these kind of metadata are not visible in Premiere Pro with the BMD's plugin for now.
There are minor differences with how both plugins handle sidecar. The Blackmagic RAW plugin hides away the fact that "Revert to Metadata" is actually loading the Sidecar file's content if there's one AND updating "Decode Using Camera Metadata", whereas in BRAW Studio it is clear that "Load Sidecar" loads the sidecar values into the GUI Custom RAW Values and "Decode using Camera Metadata" stays the same once the .braw has been imported.
Reconnect Full Resolution
BRAW Studio lets you reconnect full resolution media when you are attaching proxies to .braw in Premiere Pro, while the Blackmagic plugin doesn't let you do this.
WARNING : You should make sure you don't have Blackmagic RAW Adobe plugins installed because they will conflict with BRAW Studio and prevent you from reconnecting your .braw media.
Performances and Bugs
BMD's plugin speed is better than BRAW Studio. Improvements to our plugin BRAW Studio can be made to try to match it with BMD's plugin in the future.
Known Bugs of Blackmagic Design's Blackmagic RAW plugin
We experienced a lot of image caches issues in BMD plugin version 1.5. Cache issues basically mean that what you see on the screen is not the real content of the .braw color grade with the RAW params you selected. Note : this has been fixed with BMD Blackmagic RAW 1.5.1 update, so don't forget to update!
Some users also report Source Settings controls freezing forever. We also experienced a (rare) crash on Windows.
Trying to copy paste the plugin from one braw clip to another works well, but if the ISO List are not the same (which can be the case even within the same camera due to the Dual ISO system), it could result in bad situations, like corrupted source settings.
Using Undo (Ctrl/Cmd + Z) is also a problem : the value you see in the GUI returns back to its previous value, but the image will stay the same; and it's not a problem with the cache. If you generate a new image, the value used will be the one before you made the undo ! The only solution to get the correct value back is to change this value again.
Also using Premiere Pro's "Replace Clip" feature of might lead to some corrupted projects with the Blackmagic RAW plugin, but not with BRAW Studio.
If you want to know more about Blackmagic Raw BMD plugin issues, here are some users posts on the official Blackmagic forums :
In BRAW Studio, we already know that some Mac OSX users experienced crashes with BRAW Studio and others have our plugin running just fine. We have not found the origin of these crashes, for now we are still investigating.
Should I install Blackmagic RAW ?
Yes of course ! Because it will also install the Blackmagic RAW Player and the Explorer / Finder thumbnail previewer, which are awesome tools for your daily workflow. But you should uninstall the Adobe plugins that are installed along with them if you want to use BRAW Studio. You can use our own uninstaller for that, there will be a checkbox for uninstalling Blackmagic RAW.